National Guard sponsorship shifts from Panther to Rahal Letterman Lanigan next season

Will Schneekloth

RACER Magazine has learned that the National Guard will move their lucrative race team sponsorship from Panther Racing to Rahal Racing and Graham Rahal next season.

Graham Rahal will become the face of the National Guard in the IndyCar Series as the sponsor has jumped from Panther Racing to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing next season according to a report in RACER.

The National Guard sponsorship is one of the more important and tenured partners in the paddock allowing a team to find a driver without them needing to bring their own money. That will be the case for Rahal who began driving for his dad's operation this season.

Panther Racing did not return calls to RACER but it was understood that the organization paid anywhere from $10-13 million per year to gain a recruiting platform and provide hospitality for current Guardsmen and women plus veterans.

The Guard and Panther have not found a lot of success on the track together since they first paired in 2008 as the tandem hoped to reach the success the team had earned in the early part of last decade, having won back-to-back IndyCar Series championships.

But team hasn't won a championship since and has not won a race since 2005. It came within a corner of winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2011 with JR Hildebran but the driver crashed trying to get around a lap car and finished second to the late Dan Wheldon.

The report also mentioned that Sam Schmidt Racing, Andretti Autosport and Panther also submitted proposals for the 2014 season. It is currently unknown how the ongoing government shutdown could affect the deal.

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